Stories about: clinical trial food allergy

A potential breakthrough for peanut allergy treatment

Peanut allergies are among the most rapidly growing food allergies in the United States. Millions of children are currently living with the condition, with new cases being diagnosed daily. (A recent study shows the number of reported peanut allergies tripled in just over a decade.) And because allergic reactions to peanuts tend to be the most severe—80 to 95 percent of all food allergy deaths are peanut or tree nut related—the trend is a serious cause for concern.

But a small pilot study published by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, may offer hope for the hundred of thousands of families living with the condition. Conducted by researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital’s Division of Allergy and Immunology and Harvard Medical School, the new study shows that by combining a powerful anti-allergy medication and a methodical desensitization process, Boston Children’s researchers may be on their way to creating the next best thing to a cure for peanut allergy.

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Taste test

When describing how most kids react to a plate of their least favorite foods, the term melodramatic would be an understatement.

“If I have one more bite of broccoli, I’m going to be sick!”

“Yuck! Spinach again? It makes me gag.”

But for a small portion of kids, these terms aren’t exaggerations; they’re medically accurate statements.

Cameron Ledin is one of those children. The 8-year-old was recently diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), a severe allergic inflammation of the esophagus that causes his body to have terrible reactions to a wide range of foods. When a person with EoE eats, his immune system can mistake certain foods as invaders. This causes white blood cells to attack the throat, and can lead to terrible pain in the stomach, joints and head.

EoE is rare and difficult to diagnose, especially in young children who can’t clearly express what they’re feeling. Complicating things even more, EoE symptoms often change over time, or won’t occur for hours or days after the person has been exposed to a trigger food, making it hard to pinpoint exactly what caused an inflammation. With so many variables involved, differentiating EoE from other food allergies or gastrointestinal issues is very tricky.

In Cameron’s case, proper diagnosis took years of testing.

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Love can drive you nuts: Teens, dating and food allergies

Written by Joshua Feblowitz, a Thriving contributor who has lived with severe food allergies his whole life.

image: flikr/Amarand Agasi

As food-allergic children reach their teens, they face many new challenges in allergy management, including a first date and even a first kiss, both of which hold hidden dangers. For parents, these romantic milestones can be especially stressful because they happen outside of their watchful, protective view.

Unfortunately for food-allergic teens, dating frequently involves dining out and all the potential allergens that come with it. In addition, research and personal anecdote has shown that kissing can sometimes cause a cross-contact reaction. On top of these dangers, teens are generally known to take more risks when it comes to their allergies or feel self-conscious about them. As a result they may resist previously established rules around exposure, or be shy explaining their dietary needs, which can lead to trouble.

So, what’s a worried parent to do? The simple truth is, as teens start dating (and being more socially independent in general), they must also start learning how to manage food allergies on their own. Here are a few things you can do as a parent to help navigate this transition safely, smoothly and with minimal conflict:

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A cure for milk allergies? Part 6: At school with Brett Nasuti

Brett Nasuti has battled bullies who have taunted him with put-downs like “peanut boy” and had to sit at the highly stigmatized ‘peanut-free table” at school. Even so, he could be the poster child for living well with food allergies. He’s even taken it upon himself to educate his peers by organizing an annual Food Allergy awareness week at his school, during which he raises money for food allergy research. Here, watch Brett in action and hear what his schoolmates have to say about what they’ve learned from him.

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